FAQs - The Accessible Canada Act

Table of contents

The Accessible Canada Act – changes to come

Q1. What does the Accessible Canada Act change for the CTA?

The new legislation provides the CTA with additional tools to advance the accessibility of the national transportation system. Once in force, this legislation will provide the CTA with:

  • own motion powers to initiate investigations, upon approval of the Minister of Transport, regardless of whether a formal complaint has been made;
  • new power to award compensation for lost wages, pain and suffering, and willful or reckless practice when an adjudication finds that there was an undue barrier to the mobility of persons with disabilities. This power to award compensation aligns with that of the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal;
  • Enforcement tools such as increase of inspection powers, compliance agreements and warnings;
  • the ability for a designated enforcement officer to levy Administrative Monetary Penalties up to a maximum of $250,000 for non-compliance with certain accessibility related requirements;
  • the ability for the CTA to determine that, even if industry complies with regulations, there is still an undue barrier to a person's mobility, and order corrective measures; and
  • a new mandate to make regulations on planning and reporting obligations for industry.

Q2. When will these changes take effect?

These new provisions will take effect at a date to be determined by the Governor in Council.

Q3. How is the CTA planning for the implementation of these new responsibilities?

The CTA is putting the pieces in place for enhanced outreach, education, and compliance monitoring activities. It is also working with other implementation bodies – the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, the Canadian Human Rights Commission, the Federal Public Sector Labour Relations and Employment Board, and the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal to ensure consistent approaches and a smooth, "no wrong door", experience for any person with a disability who wants to bring forward an accessibility-related complaint.

A Council of Heads of Accessibility Agencies has been created, collectively committed to ensuring a smooth and effective implementation of the Act.

Q4. The new legislation is not yet in force. What can persons who encounter an obstacle in the federal transportation network do in the meantime?

In support of protecting the fundamental right of persons with disabilities to accessible transportation services, the CTA’s existing dispute resolution services continue to serve Canadians as a mechanism to resolve accessibility complaints via facilitation, mediation, or adjudication.

"Own Motion" Investigation

Q5. What is an own motion investigation?

The new legislation provides the CTA with its own motion powers, enabling it to initiate an investigation, whether or not a complaint was filed, with the approval of the Minister. An own motion investigation may be appropriate when the CTA has a reason to believe an issue may exist, and where the issue may be urgent, or broad-based in nature, or the subject of a large number of complaints that can most efficiently be handled through a single process.

This measure will allow the CTA to take measures to remove undue obstacles to accessibility in a proactive manner, rather than on a case-by-case basis, and take appropriate actions to remedy them.

New Regulations

Q6. What are the Accessible Transportation for Persons with Disabilities Regulations, and how do they relate to the new legislation?

The CTA is developing new Accessible Transportation for Persons with Disabilities Regulations, in parallel to the new legislation. The new regulations reflect the spirit of the new legislation, and will help achieve the goal of a truly inclusive and accessible Canada.

The regulations will establish comprehensive, legally binding and enforceable requirements for large carriers and the terminals that serve them, as well as the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA) and the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA). The regulations will include requirements relating to accessible services, transportation equipment and technology, communications and training in respect of operations by carriers and terminals in all modes of transportation, as well as operations of CATSA and the CBSA, and will ensure requirements are enforceable through administrative monetary penalties (AMPS).

The legally binding regulations will replace two existing regulations Air Transportation Regulations (ATR) and the Personnel Training for the Assistance of Persons with Disabilities Regulations (PTR); and six voluntary codes of practice.

Consultations on the regulations began in 2016 as part of the CTA's Regulatory Modernization Initiative. Draft regulations were pre-published on March 9, 2019 for a 30-day public comment period. The goal is to have final regulations in place by summer 2019. Most provisions of the regulations will come into force one year later, with other more complex requirements being phased in over three years.

In the meantime, transportation service providers are subject to CTA oversight under Part V of the Act as well as the Personnel Training Regulations and the Air Transportation Regulations.
Once the relevant sections of the Accessible Canada Act take effect, transportation service providers can be required to pay damages for pain and suffering as a result of a complaint. The CTA may also launch an own motion investigation.

Q7. The CTA's proposed Accessible Transportation for Persons with Disabilities Regulations cover large carriers. What about small carriers? Are any more regulations planned?

In fall 2019, the CTA will launch consultations on a second phase of accessibility regulations to cover accessibility requirements for small carriers.

At the same time, in line with the new legislation, the CTA will begin consultations on planning and reporting regulatory obligations for both large and small carriers.  

The goal is that these additional regulations will be in place within two years. In the meantime, small carriers are subject to CTA oversight under Part V of the Act as well as the Personnel Training Regulations and the Air Transportation Regulations.

Q8. How will the new measures be applied and enforced?

The CTA will be able to apply and enforce the regulations using the tools provided by the new legislation.

For example, if a complaint is filed, the CTA can award a person damages for pain and suffering as a result of a carrier's non-compliance with the regulations.

As well, the CTA will continue to undertake monitoring and compliance activities to ensure transportation service providers are complying with the regulations. These can include compliance agreements and AMPS of up to $250,000.

Q9. Can the CTA find an undue obstacle to the mobility of persons with disabilities and order corrective measures even if the transportation service provider is compliant with the regulations?

Once in force, the new legislation will amend subsection 172(3) of the Canada Transportation Act. This amendment will provide clear direction to the CTA that, if it is of the opinion that there is an undue barrier for a particular individual, despite the compliance of a transportation service provider with a regulation, it will be able to require appropriate corrective measures.

CTA's Accessibility Mandate

Q10. What are the CTA's current responsibilities relating to accessibility?

The CTA protect the human right of persons with disabilities to an accessible transportation network. We help ensure that any undue undue obstacles to the mobility of persons with disabilities are removed from federal transportation services and facilities, including airlines and airports; inter-provincial and international passenger railway and ferry services; inter-city bus services; terminals; and border and security screening services. The CTA does this through a variety of means:

  • It can resolve individual complaints about accessibility through facilitation, mediation or adjudication.
  • It creates regulations, codes of practice and guidelines for accessibility – and promotes them through proactive communications and outreach.
  • It regularly inspects transportation service providers, airports, and federal rail and marine terminals to verify that equipment and facilities are accessible and employees have the training they need to serve persons with disabilities.

Other CTA actions to advance accessibility

Q11. What other actions are taken by the CTA to improve accessibility in transportation?

The CTA's vision is to help make Canada's national transportation system the most accessible in the world. The CTA is advancing two important initiatives to help achieve that vision:

  • The CTA has helped to initiate an international working group that is developing recommendations related to the transportation of large mobility aids on smaller aircraft including recommendations for aircraft manufacturers, ground handlers, airlines, airports and mobility aid manufacturers. This international working group includes representatives from Canadian and U.S. disability advocacy associations, Canadian and U.S. airlines and Canadian airline organizations, Canadian ground support providers, members from both the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and the International Air Transport Association (IATA), and U.S. DOT and two manufacturers of wheeled mobility aids. The group is expected to report back with findings and practical recommendations later in 2019.
  • The CTA, has undertaken, together with partners in other federal organizations, to advance discussion of accessibility practices at the IACO. It is in the interests of both Canadians with disabilities and Canadian airlines that approaches to accessible air travel be as consistent as possible around the world. 
Date modified: